PM rival Gantz congratulates Netanyahu after final results

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Trump is expected to release his administration's long-awaited Middle East peace plan after the election. The narrative of the Israeli right is that such trips and close connections prove that the Palestinian question is no inhibitor to Israel's wider integration into the Arab world.

As of press time, with the unofficial vote tally almost complete, Netanyahu's Likud party and its smaller nationalist and orthodox-religious coalition partners looked to have secured a comfortable majority in parliament, besting the Blue and White coalition led by centrist former army general Benny Gantz.

David Makovsky, director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told NPR Netanyahu would likely hold off on annexation as a favor to Trump, pending the peace proposal.

Final results from this week's Israeli election published today left Benjamin Netanyahu on course to remain prime minister although there were reports of pressure on him not to form another narrow right-wing coalition.

A final tally of votes late Thursday showed Netanyahu's Likud party capturing 36 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

Confetti falls as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara stand on stage after Netanyahu spoke following the announcement of exit polls in Israel's parliamentary election at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 10, 2019. Earlier that night, Gantz had claimed victory.

He also tweeted a picture of a Netanyahu supporter waving a Trump flag and telephoned the premier to offer congratulations.

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Sputnik: We have 99 percent* of the votes counted; what do you think? This means that Netanyahu has more allies on the right of the political spectrum with which he can form a coalition. Every ruling party faces challenges after a decade in power - voter fatigue is nearly inescapable - but Netanyahu's future has been clouded by allegations of corruption, charges he denies.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange main indexes were up almost 1 percent in late trading on Wednesday, displaying confidence in a veteran prime minister who has overseen a humming economy and blunted various security threats, including from Syria.

So they see that many people in the centre-right thought that this formula, "this land for peace", is not the one to reach peace, and Netanyahu convinced them in that way, also that Israel is today a superpower.

"So even if someone other than Netanyahu won the elections, there would be no difference in dealing with the regional issues as both candidates have the same stance toward the Golan Heights", Abdullah added.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that "Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo".

No political party in Israel's more than 70-year history has ever won a majority entirely alone and Netanyahu faces a choice between forming a new coalition of right-wing and religious parties, or a grand alliance with the centre. Experiences such as these at a young age have caused them to believe that peace can only be achieved by force; something only the right-wing parties can achieve.

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